Federal Investigation: How long can you be investigated? What You Need to Know

American flag and gavel depicting federal investigation

When you hear the words federal investigation in the news, you get the sense that someone is pulling out the big guns. The words are used and oftentimes meant to strike fear in people’s hearts.

It’s not all a show, either. Federal agencies have the money and power of our vast federal bureaucracy behind them, and federal sentences are longer and harsher than state penalties.

If you are involved somehow in a federal investigation, you want to know how long it’s going to last. Federal agents can and do subject you to questioning and searches at inconvenient times, trying to get you to say or do things that will help their case against you.

For example, we have covered how agents can get legal authority to tap your phone in this endeavor.

Understandably, someone in this situation wants to know how to get out, or at least what to anticipate.

  • Will you be charged with a crime?
  • Will the agency drop their case?
  • Moreover, will you ever return to your normal life?

How Long Will Federal Agents Investigate?

Can they bother you for the rest of your life? The answer is maybe. It depends on the type of crime agents believe you have committed. It also depends on how many resources the agency is willing to expend on a case.

Rarely do federal agencies go after someone they believe has committed a single crime. State laws govern most of those types of crimes. Federal agencies are more interested in proving systemic corruption or organized crime.

Thus, if you are part of an investigation, it is likely you are part of a bigger investigation. It also makes it more likely that, if you are a suspect or a target, they will do everything in their power to get your cooperation. They will be very persistent.

The persistence of a federal agency is something you can’t face alone.

Sooner or later, the intrusion and anxiety will be too much. You may wish to cooperate and incriminate yourself in the process.

Having the aid of an experienced defense attorney can shorten the time your life is turned upside down and bring the case to a close. I will always fight for you to get you the outcome you hope for and deserve. We will explore how to work with federal agents to bring your investigation to a close quickly.

Statute of Limitations for a Federal Investigation

The statute of limitations gives a time limit to how long after an offense a suspect can be indicted, which means officially charged with a crime.

If agents can’t charge you with a crime within that time, the federal investigation is over.

Most federal crimes have a five-year statute of limitations. However, there are some exceptions for more serious crimes:

  • Bank Fraud: 10 years
  • Immigration Violations: 10 years
  • Arson: 10 years
  • Kidnapping: 10 years or the child’s lifetime, whichever is longer
  • Art theft: 20 years
  • Federal Conspiracy: as an ongoing offense, the statute of limitations only starts once the crime has ended. So, agents could effectively continue to investigate you for years.

In addition, there is no statute of limitations on capital offenses whose punishment is the death penalty.


The bottom line is that you need an excellent lawyer to help you evaluate what you are under federal investigation for and how federal and state laws could come into play in your case.

It’s never too early or too late to call my office and start fighting for your life. Let me help you do that today.

Let’s get started